Vice President Mike Pence recognized SoldierStrong during his speech for the work that we are doing to provide revolutionary medical technologies to veterans. We are grateful that this year’s convention recognized the service and honored the presence of our country’s heroes. Thank you to President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, First Lady Melania Trump and Second Lady Karen Pence for your generosity.
Several veterans representing SoldierStrong were honored to be so graciously greeted by President Donald J. Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and Vice President Mike Pence at the #RNC2020 where they demonstrated the Indego exoskeleton suit used to aid paralyzed and injured veterans in regaining the ability to stand and walk again.
SoldierStrong is honored to be a part of the PREVENTS Task Force Roadmap. Watch this video to learn more about the PREVENTS Task Force Roadmap and the impact the program will have on American veterans across the nation.
It’s often said that “not all wounds are visible.” This month offers the prime opportunity to reflect on that sentiment and conceptualize how we can ensure that even though some wounds may not be visible, they are still treated like those wounds that are. I believe this starts with the way in which we talk about and offer treatment for PTS.
There is an abundance of research and data about the presence of post-traumatic stress in veterans that is worth sharing and reflecting on. This month I encourage everyone to take the time to educate themselves on the subject and to review the research that is available in order to gain a better understanding. But for the sake of brevity, I will share one statistic here that in particular impacts and informs the work we do at SoldierStrong.
Between 11 and 20 veterans out of 100 who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom experience symptoms of PTS in a calendar year.
SoldierStrong is working diligently to provide those veterans grappling with PTS another tool to aid in their journey of recovery through the StrongMind program. In recognition of PTS Awareness Month, I wanted to shine a light this month on the service that StrongMind provides.
StrongMind helps veterans recovering from PTS using virtual reality therapy. Virtual reality can be used to deliver prolonged exposure therapy – the practice of recalling a traumatic memory while talking through the nuances of that memory with a therapist – an evidence-based method for treating PTS. Virtual reality therapy makes the process of recalling traumatic memories easier for veterans.
To date, the StrongMind hardware and software has been donated to 13 VA Hospitals and other medical centers across the country, allowing a tremendous number of veterans access to revolutionary PTS treatment.
Even if you are not a veteran, have never experienced PTS yourself or do not know anyone who has experienced PTS, I implore everyone to take a pledge this month to raise awareness about the effects and impacts of PTS on veterans. In addition, I think it is just as important to raise awareness about resources that are effective in treating PTS. This can be done by letting those in your life know about the StrongMind program and any other effective PTS treatments you are aware of to help build and establish a greater awareness of treatment options.
The greater level of awareness that we are able to build, the more likely Americans will recognize important symptoms of PTS and the more likely veterans will reach out to receive the treatment they need.
Learn more about the StrongMind program today.
As you know, in recent weeks we have seen social distancing become the new norm, as many of us find ourselves in quarantine or under strict shelter-in-place orders. The ways in which so many of our lives have drastically changed have left many with feelings of uncertainty, anxiety and restlessness.
At a time when we are all worried about our own families – and rightfully so – I want to remind everyone that we must also remember to reach out to those who may need it most. This includes our veteran population, particularly those already suffering from post-traumatic stress (PTS) and other mental health conditions.
The feelings of loneliness and isolation, which a number of Americans may be experiencing for the first time in their lives at such heightened levels, are unfortunately all too familiar for many of our veterans living with PTS. With the onset of COVID-19 and the precautions that we all must take in order to stay safe, these feelings of loneliness and isolation have the potential to become elevated to new extremes.
Please consider the reality that our country’s veterans are already facing:
- The veteran suicide rate is 1.5 times the national average
- An average of 20 veteran suicides occur daily
- About 70% of veterans who take their lives did not receive mental health services available at VA Hospitals
My intent in sharing these statistics is not to be negative or pessimistic. Quite the opposite. I hope sharing these statistics with you will help paint a more complete picture and incite a sense of urgency regarding what is at stake for many of our country’s veterans. I am optimistic that sharing this information will encourage others to reach out to veterans in need and possibly even provide a much-needed sense of comfort during these difficult times.
Here are just a few ways that you can reach out to veterans who may be struggling:
- Call or video chat to check-in to see how they are feeling. Social media and email are other great ways to reach out. If all else fails, write an old-fashioned letter and even include photographs and artwork to let someone know you are thinking of them.
- If your state’s guidelines allow and it is safe to do so, visit someone from outside their window or even on their front lawn or driveway while maintaining appropriate social distance. Spend time talking with them to check-in on their wellbeing.
- Based on your state’s recommended guidelines, if you are able, make yourself an available resource beyond just being there to talk – volunteer to pick-up groceries, medication & medical supplies; mow the lawn, retrieve mail etc.
- If you are in a state that still allows leaving the house for reasons other than just picking up groceries and medications, offer to take a walk on a nature trail while maintaining six feet apart and use the time to touch base to see how the other person is doing.
The bottom line is, it’s important that we are checking-in on those veterans already struggling with PTS and other mental health conditions, while observing safety measures to ensure that we all remain physically healthy. Checking-in on our veterans to lend a listening ear or a helping hand today could very well impact the way the statistics above look tomorrow.